Imagens da página
PDF
ePub

66 As

Indeed I fancy that I have hit upon a way of presenting Christian duty, which is somewhat new to me and seems also plausible and fair; my sermon would, I am sure, suit you, at least as regards its catholic spirit; it is not much more foreign than home. My text is,

my

Father hath sent me, even so send I you," one which I long since chose. The one thing which marks it is the position that all such divisions of the field as Home and Foreign are really nothing more than convenient geographical distinctions; that the Scriptures and Christ recognize but one grand division, - “the world” and “not of the world”; that all Christian work either is self-culture or aggressive enterprise, and that the latter aims at the whole field, called in Scripture “ the world,” all which is not Christ's by actual possession; so that all work which is

aggressive is by its very idea foreign and essentially one, whether labor for unconverted neighbors, western missions, or labor in heathen lands. The argument of the sermon is, that there is no reason, either in Scripture or common sense, why a man should cease his labor at any given point in this one field, but on the other hand everything points him to the duty of laboring in all his work for the evangelization of the whole. I try to show it by appealing to Christian instinct as corroborated by the idea of a Christian life, --self-sacrifice, and to History which shows that the church has prospered according as it has admitted this or not. What do you

think? I wish I could read it to you in number seventeen, Phillips Hall.

Do you remember Thompson's anniversary address before the Porter Rhetorical Society? You have seen it though, I presume, in the last “ Congregational Quarterly." He is called missionary to Persia, which he requested them not to mention. I might be an advocate for Congregationalism if in the West, but as you say you accept it because it is needed at the West, so I imagine if you were to be in India you might feel that some other form than pure Congregationalism would better fit into the present phase of society. At least so I theorize; how I shall think when I get there I don't know, but I believe that no Procrustean bed should be received as the bed for all Christians to repose upon. I did not agree with Thompson at the time, but for Persia I can believe it may better suit, as more manliness and independence of thought can there be found.

The chief advantage which he sought from preaching was the opportunity it afforded him of visiting new places. Wherever he went he was known as one soon to enter upon the foreign field, and he threw all the weight of his personal presence and influence into the enterprise of awaking new interest in the work of missions. He always appreciated the value of personal association, and knew that every one whom he interested in himself, he interested likewise, to various extent, in the cause which he represented. It is with children that this personal association is most weighty, and with them David employed it most.

Reference has been made to his habit in the seminary of talking to Sunday-schools and to juvenile missionary societies. He began in a small way, carrying a few images of Hindû gods and telling stories out of the sacred books about them, connecting his talk with the effort which the children were making to send the truth to the worshippers of these very idols. He repeated his stories in different places, and as he gained in familiarity with the work, he studied more carefully the structure of his discourse. He had attained a confidence in addressing children, and was now able to make experiments; what had been a simple talk, suggested by the images, began to assume the shape of a speech, studiously contrived with reference to the working of a child's mind, was altered and remodelled as new experience supplied him with better forms. All this was for the simple and general purpose of awaking a vivid interest among children, and of providing them with a more correct understanding of the object at which they were aiming.

This latter purpose soon showed him that the children were at a disadvantage from the want of some specific end; when they gave their contributions it was to objects too large for the grasp of their minds. He felt this, and the result was a scheme for turning the contributions of children into a special channel, the support of schools connected with missions. The Board of Missions had taken up the matter with care, making inquiry of those best qualified to advise, and David eagerly entered the same field; he wrote for suggestions to missionaries and to Sunday-school officers, and became absorbed in the subject which ever afterward, as indeed it had previously, held a large place in his mind. His share in the work consisted in addressing schools wherever he could, inducing them to pledge themselves each to a yearly subscription, adequate to the support of a school in the Madura mission, in return for which he promised a quarterly letter, having special reference to the schools thus supported. His plan also embraced the occasional support of a native preacher

و

by some school desirous of making larger contributions. To maintain a school required a yearly outlay of twenty-five dollars; to provide a pastor, one of eighty dollars ; in the latter case he promised a special letter.

In consequence of this plan he modified his address to children, introducing considerable matter respecting native schools in India, and after repeated delivery he moulded his address into a form from which he found no reason to deviate, excepting that he always introduced it in a novel manner, catching his inspiration most happily from the occasion. Long familiarity with Hindû life gained by research and by reading, by intercourse with missionaries and by correspondence, made him perfectly at home upon the subject, so that the effect upon his hearers could hardly have been different if he had really been in India; so at least it seemed when he was speaking, though doubtless had he ever returned to America after a stay in India, he would have brought a new element into his address; his manner was so confident and his utterance so rapid and fervid that many were astonished to find a "returned missionary” so very young. I am sorry that no notes remain by which the address which he finally came to deliver could be reproduced, since I feel sure that even separate from the force which his personal presence gave to it, there existed a real power in the adrnirable adaptation of its matter and language both to the comprehension of children and to the excitement of permanent interest. Still the moving force was in the person himself, standing on the platform, ruddy with youth and glowing with earnestness, which kindled as he went on, flushing his cheek and making his voice to grow more eager

and impetuous. I think the impression left was of a most

happy sort; his words were free from any appeal to a morbid horror or sympathy, always healthy and cheerful. There was a directness about them, an honesty which children like, establishing at once a personal friendship between him and them, as they would crowd around him afterward to examine the palm-leaf book, stylic knife, and Tamil Gospel of John which he used to illustrate his speech; the idols he had given up.

The appreciable result of these efforts was the securing of forty schools, increased afterward to sixty, pledged to maintain the same number of schools abroad, besides the support of a native pastor. But the result in the wide-spread interest which he created in himself and in his work cannot be estimated. Often was he touched with the simple expressions of affectionate interest which his words drew from children. Like himself when a child, little boys came forward and said they were gding to India. Wherever he went he left behind witnesses to his power in children who could not forget his zeal, and whom he animated with a similar purpose. It was not a mere momentary interest which he excited, because his appeal was not one to the emotions alone; he furnished children with plans of work and lasting incentives, so that the natural result of his addresses was active enterprise and not mere sympathetic interest. In the days when he was thus engaged instances of this effect of his speaking were constantly coming to notice, too simple perhaps to be recorded, but affording the strongest evidence of his power. May it be that years hence some will be found who shall remember his personal presence and find in it an impulse to missionary labor, even as he ever kept in mind the few words and more forcible image of the aged Doctor Scudder.

« AnteriorContinuar »